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Derby-based Blue Lion Training Academy signs up 60-year-old apprentice

Derby-based Blue Lion Training Academy signs up 60-year-old apprentice

A 60-year-old has said old dogs can be taught new tricks after signing up for an apprenticeship with Derby-based Blue Lion Training Academy.

Pat Mullen, 60, a technical manager at Ineos chemicals company in county Durham, is currently studying for a level five apprenticeship delivered by Blue Lion, based at Pride Park in Derby.

Blue Lion Training Academy gives adult learners the opportunity to gain apprenticeships to allow them to benefit the organisations they work for.

Pat, whose company produces materials used in medical equipment such as blood bags, is studying an Improvement Specialist apprenticeship which includes a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt qualification – an improvement structure for the workplace founded by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota.

Pat said:

“I’m a real advocate for the Lean Sigma process and I was interested in undertaking this specialist improvement course. My human resources department said it could now be done through an apprenticeship. I was surprised that the training programme would still be called an apprenticeship, because the word apprentice conjures up images of 16-17-year-olds. You can form the wrong assumptions of the word ‘apprentice’.”

This is the first apprenticeship Pat has undertaken in his long and varied career. Having started out in the 1980s as a lab technician at South Tyneside’s Boldon School, where he was himself educated, he has over the years been an experimental technician, scientist, development engineer and polymer technologist, has undertaken a master’s degree in chemistry, and is also Lean Six Sigma green belt trained.

Pat said he was finding his apprenticeship both rewarding and challenging.

He said:

“I’m finding it quite strenuous to be honest! You might think things will be easy because you’re 60, but they’re not. It’s like any learning, like doing my Master’s degree. If you don’t know things, you’ve got to put time aside to sit, read, and do your learning.”

Pat said the apprenticeship offered by Blue Lion fitted in well with his busy day-to-day job as a manager. His 14-month-long course requires 20 per cent of off-the job training, but this can be undertaken at work amongst day-to-day activities.

Most of the learning takes place through instruction delivered online, but there are some face-to-face meetings too.

He said:

“One of the things that comes with age is not so much that people might ask: ‘What are you doing here?’ but there’s a certain respect that comes when you speak, because you have a lot of anecdotal evidence of things that have happened in the past. Someone who’s newer on the course without the same background won’t necessarily see where things fit in a wider context. Some old dogs can be taught new tricks!”

Pat said he was very pleased to have discovered a good training course in an area of learning he is passionate about and was looking forward to finishing his apprenticeship.

He said:

“There is a lack of technology and problem-solving training out there. People do have to find out how to problem solve if they don’t know. The Lean process is all about reducing waste, whether that’s physical, financial, or concerns time, and Six Sigma is about reducing variation. It’s a great system and I’d like to encourage more people to give it a go.”

Harj Dhanjal, founder and CEO of Blue Lion Training Academy, said:

“It’s great to see that people truly can learn and keep growing whatever their age. We are very proud to have Pat on our books studying his Level 5 Improvement Specialist apprenticeship which includes a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt qualification. It’s the same qualification that I have gained myself and I can highly recommend this scheme to anyone who wants to provide real, tangible benefit to their organisation through learning how to work in a slick and efficient way. Hats off to Pat for signing up to this apprenticeship with Blue Lion.”

Blue Lion offers a wide range of management, marketing, and media apprenticeships from level two to six, with the aim of bridge the gap between right brain thinkers – who veer towards creative subjects – and left brain thinkers, who tend to favour logical and analytical processes.

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